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From last resort to first resort, Pollock’s marks five years

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Pollock’s Hardware store manager Mike Wolchock, with employees Chantelle Ranville (left) and Katie Slessor. The North End hardware hub celebrates five years as a business co-operative on June 8.

MATT PREPROST Enlarge Image

Pollock’s Hardware store manager Mike Wolchock, with employees Chantelle Ranville (left) and Katie Slessor. The North End hardware hub celebrates five years as a business co-operative on June 8. Photo Store

Taking over and rebuilding a community institution in the middle of a worldwide recession is no easy chore, as Mike Wolchock will tell you.

But, as Pollock’s Hardware in the North End celebrates its fifth year as a co-operative business on Sat., June 8, success has been stocked to the ceiling at 1407 Main St.

"People probably didn’t think we would be as successful as we have been," said Wolchock, who has managed the store for the last four and a half years.

"The first year we started in a recession, but we overcame that and we overcame it really well."

A north Winnipeg hub for do-it-yourselfers since 1922, Pollock’s closed in late 2007 and the building was put up for sale. However, that didn’t stop community residents from rallying together to hammer out details on a plan to reopen the store as a co-operative venture through memberships in June 2008.

The original plan called for 200 members by the end of its first year, but Pollock’s had more than 1,000 members after just six months. Pollock’s now has 2,300 members, some from as far away as England and South Africa.

"We’ve doubled our expectations financially, what we’d be doing in business, sales, membership, volume," Wolchock said.

"They were very conservative and it was a good way to go. Why build everyone’s expectations?"
Before it closed, Pollock’s was often a last hope for homeowners looking for odds and ends they couldn’t find anywhere else, Wolchock said.

Well, Wolchock didn’t like that kind of business, so Pollock’s invested the money from its membership shares into expanding its stock  — housewares, electrical, plumbing, tools, fasteners, paint.

"That drives our business, the simplicity of the basics," Wolchock said. "I used to come here because I knew they always had the things I needed. I never thought of Pollock’s as a place of last resort. We’ve changed that."

It’s helped Pollock’s position itself for a building boom that continues in Winnipeg, and in particular, the North End.

"People are starting to look at this community and saying there is affordable housing," he said.

"People are buying these houses and the majority need work."

Pollock’s has also been a boon for neighbourhood groups, partnering with the Manitoba Green Retrofit and BUILD to open the Social Enterprise Centre in a three storey-warehouse at 755 Main St. in 2011.

That space sells basic building materials such as lumber and drywall and provides a home for the two non-profit groups, which offer a range of construction services and skills training to those with barriers to employment.  

"That’s something that wasn’t even on our radar when we started," said Wolchock.

"It’s bigger than just Pollock’s. It trickles down into all aspects of the community."
Wolchock said the business is interested in opening up a new store in West Broadway, Wolseley or Riverview.

"There are communities in our city underrepresented with these places," Wolchock said. "If the right property came up for sale, we’d look at it."

Pollock’s will celebrate five years on Sat., June 8 from 1 to 6 p.m. The afternoon promises a barbecue at 1 p.m., along with door prizes and pony rides.

There will also be a sale for members, with some goods marked up to 50% off. Memberships cost $25. A membership is not required to shop at the store.

For more, visit www.pollockshardwarecoop.com or call 204-582-5007.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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